Footwear Optional: Test Your Barefoot Running Shoe Knowledge

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Do you know the bare facts about running? Race through our barefoot running shoe quiz!

Christopher McDougall's best-selling book "Born to Run" describes his encounter with a tribe that runs long distances wearing only what type of footwear?

As comfy as slippers and mocassins are, the Tarahumara tribe prefers thin sandals. While many barefoot running shoes have pockets for each toe, some new entries into the market have just two pockets, with only the big toe getting its own area, much like a sandal.


To say that a shoe has zero drop means what?

The drop is the difference between the height of the sole below the heel, which is higher, compared to the height of the sole below the toe. Also called the "differential," a drop of zero millimeters is considered ideal by many minimalist shoe aficionados.


What does the Ice Man, found in an alpine glacier in 1991, have to do with barefoot running shoes?

While he definitely was a man who walked long distances, he probably didn't run them. Ötzi, as he's most commonly called, wore shoes that inspired the entire line of OeTZI330, a California company specializing in fashionable, minimalist footwear. Not sure I'd recommend running in them however. Ötzi didn't.


A "foot thong" is best described how?

If you answered "both of the above," you are correct. It's a practical way to encourage yourself to use good running posture, which is always sexy. This is different from the women's fashion accessory, which, depending on your point of view, has little practical value.


What brand prides itself on having one of the thinnest soles around?

Weighing in a just a couple of ounces, and with a sole measuring in at 1.2 millimeters thick, Sockwa's line of what can realistically be called running socks are about as thin as they get.


What barefoot runner collided with American runner Mary Decker in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics?

In one of the more controversial moments in the women's 3000-meter competition, heavy favorite Mary Decker fell to the ground after colliding with South African-born British runner Zola Budd. Wendy Sly was Budd's teammate and won the silver that year, while Decker's American teammate Bremser finished a close fourth.


What do proponents of minimalist footwear NOT claim as a health benefit of wearing barefoot running shoes or running barefoot?

Thin-soled shoes, or your bare feet, allow for faster feedback from the environment beneath you, theoretically allowing for improved balance and foot strength. If you're losing your hair, you're on your own.


What minimalist footwear was Scarlett Johansson seen wearing in April 2011?

After splitting up with Ryan Reynolds, the A-list actress was spotted with Sean Penn (who apparently hasn't joined the minimalist trend) sporting a colorful pair of Vibram FiveFingers.


Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian long-distance runner, won the Olympic marathon running barefoot in what city?

The first person to ever win two Olympic gold medals for the marathon, Bikila won his first in Rome in 1960. Maybe the cobblestones were more painful than he let on because for his follow-up victory in Tokyo he found some shoes.


Which of the following is a correct match-up with the brand and how they refer to the difference between the sole's thickness under the heel compared to under the toe?

It might be a sign of a new industry, like BluRay vs HD DVD, but this is out of control. Just learn what manufacturers are talking about and read all documentation before laying down cash. If you want some more (challenging) fun, check out Nike's shoe-naming system.


When was the very first International Barefoot Running Day event held?

Barefoot Runners Society held their first such event on May 1, 2011, showing just how quickly this phenomenon is hitting the mainstream. Whether you're truly running barefoot, have some barefoot running shoes, or plod along in your trusty old steel-toed boots, you're invited to this annual event.


What brand of barefoot running shoe started the whole craze and then ended up becoming a favorite of the non-running crowd?

Popular for their comfort and minimalism, many like to use the Vibram FiveFingers for walking, shopping, or even yoga.


How long does it take to transition from a traditional running shoe to going completely barefoot?

From a few weeks to well over a year, transitioning from traditional footwear to minimalist or barefoot is nothing to rush. If you're still transitioning in a few years though, you might want to rethink barefoot running.


If the weather outside is below freezing, how do you wear minimalist footwear and avoid frostbite?

Frostbite is a great thing to avoid, and you should never have to suffer just because you're sporting minimal footwear. Many of the companies who make this type of running shoe also offer socks that are designed to work with them. If you picked socks, your mother would be proud.


Is it OK for barefoot running purists and those wearing minimalist footwear to socialize and run together?

Now there might be exceptions, but most runners get along famously. It's like a brotherhood (or sisterhood). Besides, they can all agree to poke fun at the people using cushy cross-trainers with arch supports.


What are "huaraches"?

The Tamahurana tribe described in "Born to Run" commonly uses this thin-soled sandal to run races over a hundred miles. They hit the United States long before McDougall's book though; Jack Kerouac wrote about them in "On the Road" back in the 1950s.


What British long-distance runner became famous for running many of his races barefoot?

The first two you might remember as the main characters in the film "Chariots of Fire" and were both talented runners in their own right. Bruce Tulloh's often-barefoot running career peaked in 1962 with a spectacular win in the 5000-meter European Championships. He followed that up with a coaching and writing career.


Inov-8's minimalist reputation has been built on what type of endeavor?

In a competitive field of big-name companies, having a niche is not a bad thing. Inov-8 and GoLite are two brands that actively pursue the outdoor runner.


It's said you should be able to bend your barefoot running shoe into what letter of the alphabet?

With soles as thin as 1-2 millimeters, a good-quality BRS should bend into a full circle. If you can only bend it part-way, it's not much of a minimalist shoe, but might be good to help you transition into one. Remember, go slow to avoid injuries.


What is a barefoot hash?

Nothing illegal here, nor does it have anything to do with grapes (though it could). A barefoot hash is an event where the participants run from pub to pub, evidently working up a thirst for each establishment. Generally more of a social event than any kind of real training, it's a fun way to get to know your fellow minimalists.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!